Everyone loves an underdog, right? Especially when it comes to NCAA Tournament time. If you’re not moved by the Butlers of the world, there’s a good chance you’re dead inside.
In that same spirit, we bring you a contest being put on by our friends at Point 3 (in many ways underdogs themselves in the basketball apparel game), that highlights the power of those NCAA Cinderellas. This is a contest that is part of their “Choose Your Underdog” campaign, where picking the right underdog team can get you $10,000.
The contest is simple – you enter the game and pick one team seeded No. 9 or lower in the tournament. For each round they win, you win. And the prizes escalate quickly as the squads move on.
To help you out in your picks, each day this week, we will be highlighting one of our top underdogs in the NCAA field. I’m personally going to take the first entry for a team/player I love to watch. The St. Mary’s Gaels are one of the ultimate underdogs in the entire picture; they have to win a game just to get into the main field.
The Gaels feature one of my favorite players in all of college basketball in senior guard Matt Dellavedova (16 ppg, 6.8 apg). Australian-born, Matt has been through the wars with St. Mary’s over the years as a key player in SMU’s massive battles against bitter in-conference rival Gonzaga. He’s on confidence overload at all times, is in range when he walks in the gym, plays his guys out, and is just dying to take the big shot. I cannot stress how much I enjoy watching this guy play.
The team is coached by the nationally-underrated Randy Bennet who has filled out his roster with guys who can play defense and knock down shots off of the attention focused on Dellavedova at all times.
SMU plays Middle Tennessee tomorrow night for the right to play Memphis in the big field. Now why should you pay attention to the Gaels? It’s simple – they’re good. They finished with a record of 27-6 (14-2 in conference during the regular season). The only reason they didn’t get a non-play-in seed in the Dance is because they just couldn’t beat the Zags, losing to them three times this season. SMU played the No. 1 team in the country to a standstill twice during the regular season, just losing twice. Then they met Gonzaga in the finals of their conference tournament and ran into a buzzsaw Gonzaga squad playing as well as any team in the country. The Gaels steal one of two of those games against Gonzaga during the year and they’re playing Thursday or Friday instead of Tuesday night.
And when it comes down it, St. Mary’s has a guy in Dellavedova who can win games all by himself, especially if they haven’t seen him in person.
Check out one of Matt’s career highlights below, when he knocked down a ridiculous game-winner at BYU back in January:
Follow Patrick Cassidy on Twitter
Follow Dime Magazine on Twitter
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook